Sustaining historic houses

This post originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums Blog on October 26, 2010.

More than ever historic houses are struggling to sustain and be relevant to their surrounding communities. Three case studies presented by museum experts are examples of thinking outside the box and generating unique ideas in order to keep these wonderful pieces of history open to the public.

Historic houses attempting to maintain a relevant place in the 21st century was the topic of discussion in this session presented by:

The presenters offered an interesting equation supporting the need for sustainability in historic houses:

16,000 visitors per year average to historic houses

X $7 average admission fee to all types of museums

$112,000 in income of historic houses

Does that budget cut it? Sustainability!

Morgan Log House. Photo by Flickr user road_less_trvled.

Morgan Log House. Photo by Flickr user road_less_trvled.

This panel covered three different types of sustainability options:

  1. Green Sustainability
  2. Collaborative Sustainability
  3. Engaging community involvement for sustainability

Green sustainability

This topic was discussed by Amy Hufnagel of Rutherford Hall. Rutherford Hall has undergone development to begin creating energy sources (hydro, wind, solar power) to sustain their own energy costs and create income. Rutherford Hall has been focusing on adaptive reuse, regenerative design, and historic preservation.

Collaborative sustainability

Rachel Dukeman illustrated several collaborations amongst institutions that helped to increase visibility to their institution, generate different points of entry for visitors, and allowed for shared services and multi-institutional programming.

Engaging community involvement for sustainability

The Morgan Log House has created an incredibly successful initiative for sustainability. By utilizing unused property they have been able to host a local farmer’s and arts/crafts market. With this initiative Morgan Log House has built community ties, increased visitation, and generated income.


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